Review Summary: "You Have Sunk My Battleship!" -- Death, after losing at "Battleship" to Bill & Ted
When I first heard Matt and Kim's "Daylight" back in 2009, I thought I was listening to the musical version of Beavis and Butt-head, or maybe even to Bill & Ted's Great Musical Adventure
. I pictured them as two slackers, or maybe as a pair of California surfer dudes. Later, when I learned that Kim was a woman, I felt a little unchivalrous for this, but that was my first impression. (I was tricked by Matt's vocals, which featured him playing call and response with himself -- I thought "Kim" was the other guy.) In any event, I thought their songs were pretty catchy and kind of fun, but they weren't a band I expected would be around for a long time.
Here we are almost a decade later, and I have to admit, my respect for them has grown. I wasn't a big fan of their Sidewalks
LP (2009). However, with the release of 2012's Lightning
, they started to make sense to me. I was especially impressed with "It's Alright", the last single from that album, which had a hook you could reel in Jaws
with. (And although it didn't do anything on the singles charts, the ad agency for Buick obviously agreed with me -- it's been the centerpiece music for their TV commercials since 2014.) Following this, I liked the duo's New Glow
LP (2015) and their We Were the Weirdos
EP (2016) even better.
Now comes their newest album, Almost Everyday
, which is a slightly new animal for this band. It's a little more experimental musically for them -- not groundbreaking, certainly, but it expands their sound just bit from some of their previous efforts. There are also a number of guest musicians involved here -- of the ten tracks on this LP, six of them feature appearances by two or more musical friends. This list includes Mark Hoppus, Flosstradamus, Travis Hawley of Night Riots and Santigold.
But the thing that most disinguishes this LP from the pair's earlier albums is that it's way more thematically contemplative than Matt and Kim's usual fare. I'm not saying we're dealing with Descartes or Nietzsche here -- more like Jeff Spicoli at the end of Fast Times at Ridgemont High
, when he realizes, to his own amazement, that he actually has
learned some history from Mr. Hand.
was written and recorded in 2017 while Kim Schifino was recovering from a painful ACL injury, so maybe this is what put them in a more philosophical mood. Regardless, the LP finds Matt and Kim thinking a lot about their own mortality. Sometimes they seem to embrace the idea of death ("Don't want to live forever in this world of shit" -- from "Forever"). Sometimes they seem amazed by the simple realization that they're growing older. ("Today's the youngest I will be in my life" from "Youngest I Will Be"; and "Back when I was still alive/Thought I was old at 25" -- from "Glad I Tried"). In the end, they seem to come out in favor of living as long as you can, and living life to the fullest ("I'd rather be standing on the grass than lying under it" and "I'd rather be making memories/Than reminiscing of the past, you see" from "I'd Rather").
The pace of the music seldom gets faster than mid-tempo throughout, which is fine, given the more pensive mood and subject matter. And while some of the songs have bits that are brash and raucous (such as "All in My Head" and "Glad I Tried"), there are some nice, quieter moments here, too (including "Youngest I Will Be", and the a capella "Happy If You're Happy").
All in all, this is a fine album of electro-pop music, with an emphasis on the "pop" part. It might not be the deepest thing ever made, but these guys do what they do really well. They've never been a popular band here on Sputnik, but they've been making music and entertaining alt-rock fans for more than a decade now. And just like Beavis and Butt-head, Bill & Ted, and even Jeff Spicoli (who the postscript for Fast Times at Ridgemont High
tells us went on to become a hero by rescuing Brooke Shields from drowning, and spending the reward money to hire Van Halen to play at his birthday party), they kind of make the world a better place.